Originally posted on pcma.org, this educational article was brought to you by the Vancouver Convention Centre and Tourism Vancouver, two organizations dedicated to simplifying the lives of meeting planners and delivering unforgettable experiences for attendees. Click here to hear why planners like you are so impressed with Vancouver.
Planning a successful meeting isn't just about what an organization brings to a host city. It's about the creative infrastructure that already exists in the destination - the local thinkers, creators and doers who call it home. As meeting planners lay the blueprints for upcoming conferences, it's crucial to think about ways to leverage the forward-thinking members of the local community to create a more compelling attendee experience.
"Vancouver is home to a range of some of the world's most progressive companies including Hootsuite and lululemon and a range of notable meetings industry names such as QuickMobile and EventBase," Dave Gazley, Vice President, Meeting &Convention Sales, Tourism Vancouver, says. "We're proud that so many members of our local economy are helping to make conventions feel more welcoming, more creative and more powerful."
Here's a look at some of the ways that Vancouver's innovation engine is paying for meeting planners and their attendees.
1) The border entry process is getting easier.
It’s the question every meeting planner asks before booking a conference in another country: is clearing customs going to be challenging for my attendees? In Vancouver, the answer is a resounding “no.” Thanks to YVR’s BorderXpress kiosks, eligible passengers spend 89 percent less time throughout the entire primary process. Traditional customs methods at international airports make passengers wait for approximately 37 minutes. At YVR, that wait time is just four minutes. No matter where attendees are traveling from, this technology means they’ll be able to spend more time enjoying the city and less time waiting to talk to an officer. The world is taking notice of Vancouver’s travel ingenuity. The CAPA Centre for Aviation named BorderXpress the 2015 Airport Innovation of the Year.
2) More attendees are channeling their inner yogi spirits.
It’s no secret why so many people think of Vancouver as Canada’s Yoga Capital. With studios scattered throughout the city, visitors to Vancouver will have no trouble finding a place where “Namaste” is the standard salutation. As meeting planners work to bring a better sense of well-being to the conference experience, the large number of local yoga instructors presents the perfect on-site opportunity for a break from sitting in education sessions. Chances are that any yoga instructor you hire will be familiar with the Vancouver Convention Centre, too. Over the summer, a weekly series of Thursday series of noon yoga classes on the Jack Poole Plaza directly outside the center.
3) Hashtags are more powerful than a # sign.
As more meeting planners manage some of their organizational marketing duties, many of them are already familiar with Hootsuite. The social media management system simplifies the process of engaging an audience of attendees across the Facebook-Twitter-Instagram landscape. At a recent HR Tech Group Conference at the Vancouver Convention Centre, organizers partnered with Hootsuite and Chimp, a charitable fundraising service, to encourage attendees to donate money via the conference hashtag. Participating in the hashtag fundraising campaign was simple. Each time an attendee used the hashtag, a sponsor donated $5 or $10 to the organization’s charity. By approximately 3 PM on the day of the program, Linda Wong at Chimp says the organization had gifted $2,700 to Simon Fraser University for a scholarship award to two HR students. It paid off for the organization’s social buzz, too. #HRTG15 was one of the top trending hashtags in Canada.
4) The natural surroundings shape the attendee experience.
All events and conventions want to deliver the prized “engagement factor.” However, keeping attendees connected to the content can be challenging, particularly when they feel confined within the four walls of a ballroom. At the Vancouver Convention Centre, though, the facility is designed to help attendees experience more of the city — even when they’re indoors. At a recent fundraising evening for Special Olympics BC, AV Strategies worked to incorporate the scenic view into the event design.
“We flew the screens in front of the glass windows to eliminate the backstage area,” Bruce Hitchen, Vice President, Marketing and Client Services at AV Strategies, says. “At night, the look is amazing with a beautiful backdrop of the city and the mountains.
5) The local meetings community is dedicated to creating something different.
Meeting planners know the importance of elevating their offerings to capture attendee attention, and the members of the Vancouver meetings and events industry believe in being different. For example, consider how Tom Stulberg and the Fireworks team worked to showcase Wine Australia at the most recent edition of the Vancouver International Wine Festival.
“Every year, the wine festival features a host country,” Stulberg says. “Last year, it was Australia, and we worked with the Australian Wine Marketing Board to push the envelope beyond what people were expecting.”
The result was “a trade show booth that didn’t look like a trade show.” The Fireworks team used shipping pallets to create backdrops for each of the wineries and tied together the entire experience with warm harvest tables. Stulberg says the design helped to redefine Australia and managed to embrace a sustainability component. While Fireworks customized some of the pallets, 85 percent of them were returned to the dock for shipping use.
Interested in learning more about new developments in Vancouver? Check out the Tourism Vancouver blog.
This educational article was brought to you by Tourism Vancouver and the Vancouver Convention Centre, which offers 500,000 square feet of flexible space and an ideal downtown location. In January 2016, the brightest minds in meetings will come together in Vancouver for Convening Leaders. If you would like to discover more about what makes this city an ideal place for your attendees, click here to get in touch with the Vancouver team.
Haven’t registered for Convening Leaders yet? To get a real sense of the magic of Vancouver, you have to see it in person. Click here to join your colleagues for four unforgettable days in the Pacific Northwest — and be sure to take advantage of these incredible opportunities during your trip.